"A tell tale sign of an entrepreneur is not just a vision, but the tenacity to use any and all resources to sculpt that vision into reality." -- Aurora Chiste, Co-Founder: Hack for Big Choices
"You know you're an entrepreneur when you believe you're solving a problem to make the world a better place." -- Ash Kumra, Co-Founder: Dream It Alive
December is a month where people hit the "pause" button and think about the past year. About what was attempted, accomplished, remembered, forgotten, created, and discarded. About where one is headed; physically and metaphorically. It is a time where people truly feel the push-pull of having time for themselves carved out of time spent with others. It is difficult to engage in productive mindfulness when there is a plethora of socialization opportunities for togetherness and busyness; family gatherings, holiday office parties, and shopping frenzies. But this is exactly the time of year to be introspective and take a moment to reflect, especially if you are woman interested in becoming an entrepreneur.
As this year draws to a close and people look ahead to 2014, the phrase "I plan on pursuing entrepreneurship" is being heard around the world; in boardrooms and basements and everywhere in between. But what does that really mean?
There are many types of entrepreneurship, and niche markets are all looking for game changers and inspirational leaders. Especially with regard to solving world problems such as education and healthcare, which is what social entrepreneurship is all about.
It is what Aurora Chiste and Ash Kumra are methodically and eloquently engaged in, I am engaged in, and all entrepreneurs should engage in to some extent. I am not alone in this opinion. Read this moving and intelligent blog post about the need to update Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, by Charlie Kim, Founder/CEO Next Jump.
Another type of "new age" entrepreneurship is idea entrepreneurship i.e. thought leadership, a term which I first saw in a February 2013 blogpost by Ray Edwards about helpful iPad Apps for thought leaders. Is thought leadership the same as change leadership? Dana Theus tackles this question in a recent blog post which highlights the paradigm shift we are starting to see in entrepreneurial arenas.
Social media is also contributing to the paradigm shift, which is causing us to rethink our outlook about digital crisis management. Andrea Vascellari's insights and tips are simple yet profound, especially his two suggested fundamental questions to keep in mind. What is the difference between a manager and a leader, and how does that impact on a company's social media strategy and overall culture? Steve Keating's succinct food for thought sheds light on this growing conundrum we all need to be aware of.
George Deeb recently provided a great psychological blueprint for different types of entrepreneurs, based on Joe Abraham's pithy book Entrepreneurial DNA. I would like to provide another psychological profile and alternate definition of entrepreneurship for you to consider. As we head into the new year and start to make our resolutions and plans, here are my takeaways from the past year spent lecturing on the road. They are based on my own process of trial and error, my own experiences and research, and my observations of patterns of human behavior. All of which has coalesced into my NICE Philosophy and upcoming book. Here is what I learned about entrepreneurship this past year:
You Might Be an Entrepreneur If You....
1. Embrace your inner "lone wolf": You don't like to blindly follow the pack. You think for yourself, and come to conclusions about things on your own, rather than conforming and/or staying with the status quo. You actually enjoy your own thought processes and sometimes even your own company! You have an established sense of self.
2. Challenge yourself and old ways of doing things: You prefer to go off the beaten track and try something new, to create, innovate, and problem solve. You are not averse to risks and change. You relish coloring "outside the lines" and connecting the dots, testing your mettle, learning new things about yourself and those around you. You have an established sense of adventure.
3. Successfully balance your Me vs. We think with actual deed: You walk that tightrope between being a mentee and being a thought leader, and between collaborating authoritatively and resisting authority. You vacillate between seeking help and orchestrating disruptive innovation. Your Minimally Viable Product (MVP) makes you part of the lean startup movement, while your impact (and Story) makes you part of the social entrepreneurial movement. You learn the rules of the game and then find ways to reinterpret, revise, or rebut them, to create space for your own game pieces. You have an established sense of timing.
You Think You're an Entrepreneur So You...
1. See patterns in world events, tech trends, and cultural trends, and plan how to positively exploit them, and execute said plan within your allotted time frame.
2. Say "why not" instead of "why", and "watch me do it" instead of "I can't".
3. Retain childish wonder and optimism in the face of challenges/setbacks.
You Know You're an Entrepreneur When You....
1. Find ways to promote positive change that helps people do something differently, more easily, and/or more meaningfully.
2. Achieve a better work/life balance; for yourself and for others, based on the examples you set and the product/service you provide.
3. End up heeding your own "inner voice" to adjust your trajectory and game plan, after weighing the debated pros and cons based on the other voices around you; in Real Time and/or "cyber time".